Non-technical founders:

how to kickstart development on your product in 3 weeks

and learn how to avoid losing $100K to shady partners in the process.

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25+ products built & launched.
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  • Franklin Templeton
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  • Sorenson
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Supported $650M+ in fundraising from top VCs

Blueverse

Mason, Alec, Taylor & Drew

Closed a 6-figure seed round with roadmap built using this process.

“We’ve had ideas flowing for so many months—now that we finally get to put them on paper it feels good.”

Mason

“I’m on FIRE”

Taylor

“Working with you was perfect because you had that outside of the box thinking and you could better organize the thoughts we had. Something that we would discuss for hours—for days, in less than 2 weeks we were able to reach that level of detail with you guys.”

Shirley

Heyway

Shirley Vega
& Tyler Rasch

Reduced their expected development costs by 50% using this process.

Loper

Eric Menna
& Sam Bernstein

Signed their first customer contract during development using this process.

“We’ve got more done in the last 4 hours than Sam and I have achieved in the past couple of weeks”

Eric

“I wish we did something like this a couple of months ago.”

Sam

Ready to get started?

Are you a founder of a technical startup, but you don’t have the skills to build it yourself?

Building a startup as a
non-technical founder is like
playing on hard mode.

You’ve got no shortage of Vision. But you can’t build that Vision yourself. Getting it built means entering into the world of Nerds.
As someone who doesn’t speak the language of Tech, interfacing with that world can be exhausting. You can spend hours digesting the jargon, the buzzwords, the endless list of frameworks, platforms, and providers. But that’s time you could spend doing what matters most to any founder:

Growing your Business.

If you’re going to succeed as a non-technical founder, you need a process for navigating the world of Nerds.

A process for taking your vision and translating it into something that designers and developers can execute.

A process that helps you lean into your strengths as a non-technical founder, letting you focus on your business while the Nerds stack bricks

This page is all about that PROCESS

Here, you’ll learn step-by-step how our 25+ clients got their ideas out of their heads, into development, and published on the web and app stores.

You’ll learn how you can handle this process yourself, and what sorts of technical partners you’ll need when it comes time to execute.

You’ll learn how to avoid some of the errors that have costed other non-technical founders $100K+, and see examples of successful folks coming from backgrounds like yours.

OKAY,
BUT WHO ARE WE?

I’m James Knight

Founder and Chief Nerd of No Nerds No Problem.

I’ve earned my Nerd stripes: I have an undergraduate degree in Mathematics, studied for my Masters in Computer Science at Georgia Tech, and started my career in robotics at Romotive (now Zipline).

Since leaving Google in 2015 and starting my startup consulting agency, I’ve grown this company to 10+ nerds across 4 different countries, been featured in Bloomberg, and have helped more than 25 companies launch their MVPs and raise a combined $650M in fundraising.

And I’m going to show you how to do the same.

Ready to get started?

going from
vision -> product
is about answering the
Five Questions

who

is our customer?

why

will they care?

what

are we bulding?

how

are we bulding it?

when

will it be done?

we’re going to answer those questions in 3 separate phases:

1.

Define your Spec Offer → Answering Who & Why.

Old Way Define your Spec

  • Start w/ Idea
  • Research the marketplace.
  • Talk to potential customers.
  • Use feedback to refine concept.
  • Build a “spec”.

Old Results

  • Cargo Culting
  • Fake feedback
  • Design by committee.
  • Product defined by “features”

35% of funded startups fail because of “No Market Need”.

Quibi

$1.7B spent building content & product.

Shut down 8 months after launch.

Define your offer, validate WHO your customer is and WHY they want your product, then scope your product to deliver the value in that offer.

New Way Define your Offer

  • Lean Startup MVP - the minimal amount of work required to SELL.
  • Storymapping - what story is your offer telling?
  • Build sales materials (prototype, proof of concept, landing page, etc.)
  • Take that offer to real customers.
  • Sell and get real feedback.

New Results

  • We only build what we’ve validated
  • Real feedback—money talks
  • Problems defined by the customer, solutions designed by you.
  • Product defined by Customer Outcome, not a list of features.

Examples

Loper Concierge Prototype

  • Initial customer feedback and seed funding off a “concierge prototype.

52Fables Landing Page

  • 1-hour landing page, $100 in ads, 30 sign-ups in 24 hours.

Kickstarter

  • $6.5B in offers.

Ready to define your offer?

2.

Describe w/ Design Story → Answering What.

Old Way Describe w/ Design

  • Take a “spec” to designers.
  • Compare spec to “benchmark” competitors.
  • Designers deliver something “sexy”.
  • Final designs are taken to developers.

Old Results

  • Old Results
  • Incomplete designs
  • Designs are made impractical or impossible to develop
  • Product is poorly defined.

The average software project has a 66% cost overrun and a 33% schedule overrun.

Self-Portrait Project

3 years spent in design with nothing to show.

See how we turned it around

Describe your product w/ story first, then wireframes, leaving style for the very end.

New Way Describe w/ Story

  • Storymapping - What story is your product telling?
  • Focus on product not design, wireframes first.
  • Include technical input in the revision process.
  • Style comes last.

New Results

  • Function over Form
  • Our product is complete
  • Designs are possible and practical to develop

Examples

Heyway

  • ~$100K estimate reduced to $53K
  • Product delivered on time, w/ no timeline or budget overrun.

Ready to describe your product?

3.

Plan via Proposals Roadmapping → Answering How & When.

Old Way Plan via Proposals

  • Source technical partners.
  • Have those partners put together a “proposal.”
  • Compare “proposals” and select the one that looks best.

Old Results

  • Proposals are worthless
  • Estimates are based on what the proposer thinks you can afford
  • Timelines are organized around what’s easiest not what’s critical.

38% of funded startups fail because they “ran out of cash”.

Knowhere

Development team built 80% of product but couldn’t complete the final 20%.

$100K+ spent on a product that didn’t work.

See how we turned it around

Plan development through collaborative roadmapping, avoiding worthless proposals and building an accurate timeline and estimate for your project.

New Way Plan w/ Roadmapping

  • Storymapping - What story are your features telling?
  • Involve technical partners and have them architect.
  • Plan our project around the parts that are business critical or most challenging.
  • Plan releases around business milestones

New Results

  • Proposals are valuable
  • Timelines are accurate
  • Roadmaps align with business needs
  • We get a chance to vet our technical partner(s)

Examples

Blueverse

  • Closed a 6-figure seed round using this design prototype.
  • Went into development immediately after round closed.

Ready to roadmap towards launch?

going from
vision -> product
the right way

Lean into what makes you a founder—your vision—and let your business define your product and not the other way around.

1.
Define your OFFER, not a SPEC

Validate WHO your customer is and WHY they want your product with a testable offer, not a list of features nobody cares about.

2.
Describe with STORY, not DESIGN

Start with storymapping & wireframes to build complete products, not sexy but impossible designs.

3.
Plan with ROADMAPPING, not PROPOSALS

Collaborate with partners to develop accurate timelines and estimates, not worthless proposals.

OKAY,
BUT HOW?

Option 1

Manage it yourself

pros

Save money
The more you do yourself the less you spend on others.


Build your dream team
Hire exactly who you want for each step of the process.


Retain total control
You control the process, you control the vision.


Learn a lot
Building an offer, coordinating between designers and developers, and putting together a roadmap—it’s like a mini-MBA program for startups.

cons

Lose time
The more you do yourself the less time you have for other things.

Management is consuming
You have to find, vet, hire, and manage your dream team.

Risk tunnel vision
Controlling everything yourself means missing out on second opinions and diverse viewpoints.

Lose out on existing expertise
You can’t know everything about everything, leaning on experts can give you a boost when you need one most.

Option 2

Find a technical cofounder

pros

Good partners make great businesses
The solopreneur path is challenging. Having a quality partner who you can trust is incredibly valuable.


Co-founders cost less cash
For bootstrapped businesses, another cofounder means more “sweat equity” and less upfront cost.


Having someone invested strengthens the business
Nobody else is going to be invested—emotionally, mentally, or financially—in the business like you and your cofounders.

cons

Bad partners destroy companies
For every quality cofounder, there are ten people who might sink your startup. Finding a cofounder is like getting married—take it slow.

Co-founders cost more equity
If you really believe this is going to be a $10M, $100M, or $1B company some day, then you’re giving away 50% of that value on Day 1.

Finding someone worthy of that commitment is hard
Quality technical partners are getting absolutely hammered by offers to join startups. FAANG companies are offering $300K+ in total comp—can you convince someone your startup is worth that much?

Option 3

Work with existing companies

pros

Potential providers are everywhere
The world in 2022 is small: it’s easier than ever to find freelancers, agencies, and studios online and offline.

Experts are easy to find
Offer validation: AJ&Smart and Design Sprint LTD
Product design: Orizon
Development: Fueled


A huge range of cost and quality
It’s easy to find a provider that matches your budget, whether that’s at $10 an hour or $1000.

cons

Finding the right partner is time consuming
The average job post on AngelList gets 2K+ responses. Only 1% of those are worth your time.

Quality partners are expensive:
AJ&Smart and Design Sprint LTD charge ~$20K for 1 week.
Orizon charges $8K per week for 5-10 weeks.
Fueled projects cost ~$300K on average.


Affordable partners vary wildly:
Linguistic and cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings.
Too many providers makes it hard to invest in vetting any single one too deeply.
You have little to no recourse if things go wrong.

Option 4

Work with us

NO NERDS NO PROBLEM
helps non-technical founders
manage their tech so you can
focus on growth.*

Obsessed with helping non-technical founders building early-stage startups.

With 30+ products launched, we work exclusively with brilliant non-technical founders who just need help managing the tech side of their startup.

Dedicated technical partner from validating your offer through to IPO.

We act as your “cofounder-for-hire,” with our leadership present at all times.

International, in-house team balances cost and quality.

We’re not an agency—all of our designers & developers are in-house working from the same virtual “office”.

WHO
DO WE WORK WITH?

For founders who have an idea but aren’t sure how to get started.
Define -> Design -> Plan -> Develop

Blueverse

Mason, Alec, Taylor & Drew

Closed 6-figure seed round with our roadmap.

Before

  • “Product” consisted of 2-page Word document.
  • Enormous vision.
  • No experience, no funding.

After

  • Full sales prototype after 1 week.
  • Full product design after 3 weeks.
  • Closed a 6-figure seed round off of Roadmap alone.

Blueverse

Mason, Alec, Taylor & Drew

“I’m on FIRE.”

Taylor

We’ve had ideas flowing for so many months—now that we finally get to put them on paper it feels good.

Mason

Heyway

Shirley Vega & Tyler Rasch

Reduced their expected development costs by 50% using this process.

Before

  • Idea for a product coming from their existing consulting practice.
  • No experience with product development or startups.
  • Initial quotes from other agencies $90-100K.

After

  • Organized entire existing supply process into a customer map.
  • Identified where in that map our product fit.
  • Final quote ~50% of other partners.

Heyway

Shirley Vega & Tyler Rasch

Working with you was perfect because you had that outside of the box thinking and you could better organize the thoughts we had. Something that we would discuss for hours—for days, in less than 2 weeks we were able to reach that level of detail with you guys.

Shirley

For founders who have validated their offer, but need help with design & development.
Define -> Design -> Plan -> Develop

Loper

Eric Menna & Sam Bernstein

Signed their first customer contract during development using this process.

Before

  • Existing concierge prototype.
  • Large scale vision but having trouble converting that into a plan.
  • Planning on using another firm for development but interested in Product & Design.

After

  • Full design and roadmap developed in just 2 weeks.
  • Started development with us on Monday.
  • Closed initial deal during development using ongoing deliveries.

Loper

Eric Menna & Sam Bernstein

We’ve got more done in the last 4 hours than Sam and I have achieved in the past couple of weeks.

Eric

I wish we did something like this a couple of months ago.

Sam

For founders who already have existing designs, but need help with development.
Define -> Design -> Plan -> Develop

A Rad Corp

Matt Ivester

Founder & CEO, A Rad Corp

Rapid prototyping & launch of 2 apps in just 4 weeks.

Before

  • Core product struggling to find traction.
  • Wanted to rapidly prototype and test two new ideas.

After

  • #FIREFIRE built and launched, hitting front page of Product Hunt.
  • Hotshot Screen Recorder built and launched.

A Rad Corp

Matt Ivester

Founder & CEO, A Rad Corp

James understands what it means to work with a startup where every dollar counts.

Thanks to him, we were able to bring our products to market much faster than we could have ourselves.

Matt

For founders with existing development work on their product, looking for help bringing it to the finish line.
Define -> Design Review -> (Re)Plan -> Develop

Knowhere

Lachie Given

Founder - Knowhere

Turning around 6 months of wasted develolpment time in 2 Weeks.

Before

  • 6 months and $100K spent with another development firm.
  • Core feature (location sharing) DID NOT WORK.
  • App drained a full user battery in hours.

After

  • App launched to App Store - Currently 5 stars.
  • Location sharing fixed.
  • Battery issue resolved.

Knowhere

Lachie Given

Founder - Knowhere

After an entire year of working with another firm, our app just did not work—the core feature was broken and the app drained the battery.

James was able to research the problem and find a workable solution in a matter of weeks.

Lachie

Self Portrait Project

Andy Lin

Founder - The Self Portrait Project

From 3 years of no progress to hardware prototype in just 1 week.

Before

  • Three years spent with existing design agency and not a single line of code written.
  • Existing designs were incomplete—if built, the app wouldn't function.
  • App involved hardware product and needed a prototype for investor demos.

After

  • App launched to App Store - Currently 4.8 stars.
  • Hardware prototype delivered in two weeks.
  • Over 850K photographs captured to date.

Self Portrait Project

Andy Lin

Founder - The Self Portrait Project

After three years of other agencies promising a lot but delivering little, getting to test a prototype after just one week was very cool.

From the first time we sat down, I really felt James & team got what I was trying to do.

Andy

For founders with products already in the marketplace, looking for help taking them to the next level.
(Re)Define -> (Re)Design -> (Re)Plan -> Develop

Wellness 4 Humanity

Lian Pham

Founder - Wellness 4 Humanity

COVID test vending machines launched in 12 weeks

Before

  • Upcoming deadlines w/ partners but stalled progress.
  • Overseas developers unable to deliver on promises.
  • Clinics suffering from growing pains.

After

  • COVID vending machines launched at international airports.
  • Clinic management system released, reducing workload.
  • Booking system launched, improving checkout speed.

Wellness 4 Humanity

Lian Pham

Founder - Wellness 4 Humanity

James and his team stepped in at a critical moment in Wellness 4 Humanity's trajectory and delivered exactly what we needed to hit our deadlines and expand the public's access to quick and easy COVID testing.

Without them, the launches of our national vending machine network and our flagship New York clinic would not have been the successes they were.

Lian

For founders who don’t want to waste their time & money building something that isn’t going to work.
Define -> Design -> Plan -> Develop

Replenish

Sachin Gulaya

CEO - Alpine Vapors

Customer-ready prototype and full Project Roadmap in 2 Weeks.

Before

  • Had idea for startup inspired by his experience as a cannabis CEO.
  • Spent months researching possible solutions but couldn't get started.
  • Received quote from other partners but found it "wildly expensive".

After

  • Prototype tested with actual customers.
  • Quote reduced by ~50%, scope increased, timeline shortened ~1 month.
  • Feedback demonstrated project was more challenging that originally thought.

Replenish

Sachin Gulaya

CEO - Alpine Vapors

Going back to the overall process, I am really enjoying it and think that it’s 100% worth the cost. I’ve learned a ton so far and really appreciate the depth. Now that we’re in it I can’t imagine how it could’ve gone any other way.

Sachin

Ready to get started?

What’s going to happen
during this process?

Sell first, build after

You’re going to go from idea to sellable offer in just one week. That’s everything you need to start selling customers, or even raise seed capital.

Story first, design next

We’re going to take that offer and turn it into a high-level Product Story and fully clickable wireframe prototype one week later. That includes every little feature we need to develop to get you to launch.

Roadmap, don’t request proposals

We’re going to wrap that clickable prototype in a sexy design, have our development team research what it’s going to take to make it work, and build a full development roadmap, complete with an exact timeline and a guaranteed cost estimate.

What does this process
look like?

week 1.

Define your Offer ->

On Your Own
Research Your Idea
Show it off to friends and family.
Build a list of features and hope for the best.

With No Nerds
2 day intensive workshop.
Build your “Offer” Story, describing how your customers will encounter and acquire your product.
A landing page to generate interest.
A sales prototype that demos that offer.
3-5 real customer interviews.

Examples
1-Week Offer Workshop
Interviews & HMWs
Long Term Goals & Sprint Questions
The Map
The Storyboard
The Prototype

week 2.

Describe your product ->

On Your Own
Take list of features to designers.
Define features based on “benchmark” competitors.
Create a sexy design and hope your devs can build it.

With No Nerds
1-2 day intensive workshop.
“Product” Story, describing how your customers will onboard and receive value from your product.
“Wireflows” laying out all the paths your customers can take.
A clickable wireframe prototype, reviewed by our tech team for feasibility.

Examples
The Map Strikes Back
The Flows
The Frames
The Wireframe Prototype

week 3.

Plan your launch ->

On Your Own
Developers review spec & designs, come up with ballpark timeline.
Devs plan the project around what’s easiest to deliver first.
Devs deliver an “estimate” with no guarantee.

With No Nerds
1-2 days of intensive sessions.
Full product backlog, including every “Use Story” involved in your product.
Full design for getting your product to launch.
Technical analysis document.
Week-by-week timeline.
Guaranteed cost quote.

Examples
The Designs
The Research
The Timeline
The Estimate
The Roadmap

Week 1 Offer

  • 2-day intensive workshop
  • “Offer” Storymap
  • Landing page
  • Sales Prototype

Value: $20K

Cost: $6K *

Week 2 Offer

  • 1-day intensive workshop
  • “Product” Storymap
  • Wireflows
  • Clickable Wireframe Prototype

Value: $16K

Cost: $6K *

Week 3 Roadmap

  • 1-day intensive workshop
  • Full Product Backlog & Design
  • Tech report
  • Timeline & Guaranteed Quote

Value: $10K

Cost: $6K *

Total Value: $46K

Total Cost: $18K

Booked Together: $15K

(Contact us for custom pricing)

still need convincing? how about this:

If you aren’t happy with our work, we’ll refund 100% of our fees,
no questions asked.

Kickstart your offer today.